From their beginnings as an angsty emo four-piece from Illinois at the turn of the millennium, Fall Out Boy have released six studio albums, two live albums, one compilation, EPs and 21 singles.
With their often-ambiguous lyrics and playful videos, they’ve become stalwarts of pop-punk, even with their recent shift towards stadium-ready pop-rock.
We asked bassist Pete Wentz and chief lyricist for a run-through of his favourite tracks, from the hits to the ones that almost didn’t happen.
THIS AIN’T A SCENE, IT’S AN ARMS RACE (Infinity On High, 2007)
PETE: “This probably shouldn’t have been a single on pop radio because it was such a weird song, but it somehow works. The video was a lot of fun to shoot, too – we just took the piss out of what everybody thought our lives were like.”
I DON’T CARE (Folie à Deux, 2008)
“This was a fun song to make and was kind of like an ode to narcissism. When we put it out, it played on the idea of the selfie – the culture of ‘I don’t care what you think, as long as it’s about me’.”
SUGAR, WE’RE GOIN’ DOWN (From Under The Cork Tree, 2005)
“This was a fun one. It’s the song that almost didn’t happen. Patrick played that chorus as a throwaway when we were writing in the practice room, and I was like, ‘What was that part?’ And he couldn’t remember; eventually he did, but it almost never happened. In some ways it was like being on the other side of the precipice, and that was like terrifying and great. We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
MY SONGS KNOW WHAT YOU DID IN THE DARK (Save Rock And Roll, 2013)
“This was the next incarnation of what Sugar was, and what it meant to us. It was like going to a roulette table and putting it all on one number – we were re-launching our band with this song, and if everyone hated it, it could have been a big problem for our legacy. I developed a lot of affection for that song because it was such a bizarre idea; we played it to our friends and some of them were like, ‘Why are you trying to put hair metal screams on this song?’ I developed a section for it, because before we put it out it was a strange little broken song, so it was cool to see it in stadiums at sports games, because it didn’t really begin that way.”
SHE’S MY WINONA (Folie à Deux, 2008)
“This wasn’t a single, and the album it’s from, Folie à Deux wasn’t our most popular album. The record was made before I had my son, who’ll be seven in November, and this song was me wondering what [fatherhood] would be like. I was thinking, ‘Would my life change? Will I feel differently?’ I was trying to guess what it would be like. When I look back on it, it’s interesting; some of the stuff I got really right, but there are other things about having a child that I couldn’t possibly have known.”
THNKS FR TH MMRS (Infinity On High, 2007)
“When we made the demo of this, it didn’t sound anything like the finished product. We watched the movie Josie and the Pussycats, and there’s rock music in it, but it’s really bizarre; it’s like punk music, but you can tell that a pop person had [been involved]. We found out that the guy behind it was an American producer called Babyface, so working with him was almost like Babyface doing a Bon Jovi song. His input is the only reason that song turned out the way it did. And making the video was literally bananas – there were monkeys in it.”
IMMORTALS (Big Hero 6 soundtrack, 2014)
“We wrote this for the movie Big Hero 6, which was cool because we went in with the filmmakers and we wrote for a very specific scene. It was such a different songwriting process. It’s something my kids can watch as well, which is nice. We saw how Disney really worked, and watching the Disney and Marvel collaboration coming together was really cool.”
UMA THURMAN (American Beauty/American Psycho, 2014)
“We originally came up with this track while we were on tour. Patrick had this idea, and it ended having a sample from the Munsters in it. We started playing it for people, and everyone said, “Oh my god, it sounds like Quentin Tarantino with the surf guitar.” So we decided to try and write a song based on something Tarantino-ish, and we chose Uma Thurman. I think everyone thinks of Pulp Fiction, but to me it’s more like her fighting with the samurai sword in Kill Bill.”
AMERICAN BEAUTY/AMERICAN PSYCHO (American Beauty/American Psycho, 2014)
“There are these French DJs that I really like – Brodinsky and Sebastian – who remind me of the 90s punk scene in the US, when were were kids dressed in full punk gear, and mosh pits, and the whole attitude. We reached out to Sebastian and said, “Let’s make a rock and roll song that’s like a throwback from the future!” So he helped us, and we chopped up some Mötley Crüe guitars. We sampled Too Fast For Love; I know Tommy Lee pretty well so we reached out to them, and they were psyched on it. Tommy loves Sebastian. The song was wild; it had to become the title track of the album.”
SATURDAY (Take This To Your Grave, 2003)
“This one’s off our first album and it’s what we close every show with. It’s kind of like the peace sign; peace and we’re out. We’ve been doing it since the start of the band and now we play in amphitheatres and arenas but we still do it, so it’s cool to have one landmark thing that hasn’t changed.”
Fall Out Boy are on tour now. See their official website for details.